In a very positive sign for in-person industry events, the recently held 2022 SS&C Black Diamond Executive Forum was a well-attended gathering. Over 60 executives from 40 firms representing $390 billion in AUM came together in Atlantic Beach, FL, for two days of technology presentations, industry trend discussions, and networking.
Steve Leivent, Co-General Manager for SS&C Advent, welcomed the group back to the popular event after a two-year pandemic-driven hiatus, revealing in his opening remarks some very impressive statistics about the growth and success of the SS&C Black Diamond® Wealth Platform. “We now serve over 1,850 clients representing over $2 trillion in assets,” he said. Leivent also reported some very impressive usage rates for Black Diamond, including the fact that the Client Experience portal had over 5 million end-client logins, and advisors had run over 25 million reports on the BD system in the previous 12 months. Additionally, the team servicing and supporting advisors had grown to over 400 employees and 22 development teams.
At the same time, SS&C has been busy expanding the ecosystem serving advisors by acquiring the trust accounting platform Innovest and integrating the compliance intelligence platform developed by RCI. In addition, SS&C launched a new insurance marketplace with a partner that has been a pioneer in creating commission-less insurance products and a delivery model specifically for RIAs.
The Advent Insurance Marketplace Powered by DPL is the go-to solution for RIAs looking to implement key recommendations for insurance and annuities in clients’ financial plans.
“We are bringing to market the technology, products, and services that make insurance work for RIAs today,” said David Lau, Founder and CEO of DPL. “We believe that commission-free annuities are the most important product innovation since the ETF.”
DPL serves over 3,000 RIA firms representing more than 20,000 advisors and includes 40 commission-free products from leading carriers on its platform.
“Key industry trends are redefining the role of the RIA, particularly in this era of low interest rates and with retirements extending thirty years or longer,” said Lau. “Annuities can play an important role in helping advisors deliver secure retirements for their clients.
By advising on annuities through the Marketplace, advisors have access to value-driven annuity products they can bill on—allowing RIAs to increase firm revenue while providing better income solutions for clients. Lau noted that commission-free annuities can generate income as much as forty percent more efficiently than traditional fixed income portfolios.
“Bonds become a risky asset when rates rise,” he said and pointed to the Fed’s anticipated interest rate hike to combat inflation. “Annuities provide a predictable income stream, and help mitigate sequence of returns risk by eliminating the ‘luck’ factor of a client retiring into a bull vs. bear market.”
Following Lau, the Black Diamond product team provided an overview of the many new enhancements and innovations they are working on to expand the ecosystem of technologies that support RIAs. These included more powerful financial planning capabilities, expanded partnerships with popular third-party vendors, as well as the ability to integrate Morningstar’s ESG ratings. The Black Diamond Rebalancer is also accelerating its adoption in the industry as over 700 firms are using it, deploying 4 million workflows in 87,000 models via 250,000 sessions.
Rounding out the Executive Forum was a special guest keynote from Ben Harrison, Managing Director of BNY Mellon |Pershing, discussing industry trends. Harrison provided fantastic insight from the hundreds of RIA firms Pershing serves, noting that, “During the pandemic, firms with capacity for growth were able to leverage digital channels to onboard record numbers of clients and assets during the pandemic – growth for these firms has been significant.”
Harrison next tackled the perennial issue of an aging industry. “Succession planning remains important and is fundamentally transforming the shape of the industry.” Harrison pointed to the challenges of connecting with the next generation of current clients to future-proof your firm. He suggested that aligning that next-gen with advisors in the same demographic will be critical. At the same time, he believes that the consolidation at the top of the industry will continue to be driven by RIAs buying other RIAs. “The fundamentals haven’t changed in the industry as the succession issue is at play, and your businesses are attractive in generating annuitized cash flows, which will attract investment.”
Harrison has been an astute observer for what makes a good deal. “Last year, we had roughly 250 transactions, and 85% of the buyers were professional buyers,” he said. “The reason why is that these firms have an ability to integrate practices, get scale, as well as optimize synergies and most importantly, acquire talent.”
A long-standing networking tradition for the Executive Forum is to bring the group to the TPC Sawgrass “stadium” golf course for the first round of the PGA’s PLAYERS Championship, a clear highlight on the industry conference agenda. “We always look forward to this event as it provides ample opportunities to network with our peers,” said Jennifer Kirksey, Managing Director of Tolleson Wealth Management in Texas. “This year is particularly exciting as it feels great to finally be back in person and interact directly with the fabulous Black Diamond team who support us each day.”
Regardless of your size or structure, the Black Diamond® Wealth Platform has the flexibility, infrastructure, and power to support your unique wealth management business. Learn more by requesting your personal demo, call 1-800-727-0605, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.